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New models - Jeep - Commander

First drive: Commander a fitting Jeep flagship

Value: Base Commander is priced just $1000 above entry Grand Cherokee.

Jeep Commander combines Grand Cherokee’s breadth of ability with seven seats

23 May 2006

A NEW Jeep flagship has rumbled into town and the iconic US off-road brand’s first seven-seater four-wheel drive is more than a stretched version of the Grand Cherokee upon which it’s based.

Commander goes on sale this week priced from $54,990 – just $1000 more than the entry-level Grand Cherokee, the price of which has also been reduced by $2500 to $53,990.

The first of a number of all-new Jeep models to go on sale in Australia over the next four years, the Commander range echoes the five-seat Grand Cherokee range released last July, opening with a 170kW/410Nm 4.7-litre V8 from the Grand Cherokee Laredo 4.7L.

The $59,990 Commander 3.0L CRD employs the same DaimlerChrysler-developed 160kW/510Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine as the $58,990 Grand Cherokee Laredo CRD (and the Mercedes-Benz ML320 CDI).

Topping the Commander range are three Limited variants, with the Commander Limited 4.7 priced $1000 above the Grand Cherokee Limited 4.7 at $66990, the Commander Limited CRD priced $1000 above the Grand Cherokee Limited CRD at $69990 and the flagship Commander Limited 5.7L priced $1000 more than the Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7L at $71,990.

The top-shelf Commander is powered by the same 240kW/500Nm 5.7-litre HEMI V8 that motivates the quickest Grand Cherokee (and is a detuned version of the 250kW/525Nm engine found in sister company Chrysler’s 300C V8 sedan.

As in those models, it features the Chysler Group’s fuel-saving Multi-Displacement System and, unlike 4.7 V8 variants, requires 95-RON premium unleaded fuel.

The Grand Cherokee line-up will be capped by an SRT-8 range-topper later this year, powered by a 313kW version of the recently released 300C SRT-8’s 317kW/569Nm 6.1-litre V8, and Commander could follow suit in 2007 - when the compact Compass and Patriot Jeep SUVs will also be launched.

9 center imageFor now, however, Commander represents good value within Australia’s seven-seat SUV arena, which opens at under $40,000 with the likes of Ford’s Territory, Hyundai’s Terracan and Holden’s forthcoming Captiva, rises to similar pricing for Mitsubishi’s (six-cylinder and diesel) Pajero and Toyota’s Prado, and tops out with European-built V8s like Land Rover’s Discovery, VW’s Touareg, Audi’s upcoming Q7 and $100,000-plus Germans like the Benz ML500, BMW X5 4.4i and Porsche Cayenne.

Commander brings the number of Jeep models offered here to five and is well-specified despite Chrysler Group Australia’s aggressive pricing.

Its three rows of seats are staggered theatre-style, with the rear two rows positioned about 120mm higher than those in front to allow good forward vision from all seven positions, and the second row is 40/20/40-split to improve rear-seat access.

They’re housed in a chunkier five-door body that rides on the same 2780mm wheelbase but is just 37mm longer overall than the Grand Cherokee and features a more upright windscreen, rear-end and body sides – plus a steeped roof to accommodate third-row passengers, who enjoy a dedicated heating/air-conditioning system as standard.

Inside there’s also a unique gear-shifter, LED-illuminated instrument cluster, steering wheel, upper dash (featuring 16 tough-look allen bolts) and seats, which fold flat in the second and third rows, while the optional "Command-View" panoramic sunroof with "skylights" resides above the second-row seats.

Commander offers 212 litres of cargo space with all seven seats in use, while folding the third-row seats expands this to 1028 litres and folding the second row extends this to a generous total of 1940 litres.

As well as best-in-class off-road capability, Jeep claims Commander delivers "precise and responsive on-road dynamics", thanks to Grand Cherokee’s new independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering system, which provides a decent 11.8-metre turning circle.

Just as two five-speed automatic transmissions with manual-shift function are offered (a W5A580 for the CRD and a 5-45RFE for the V8s), so too are two full-time four-wheel drive systems, both offering 4WD on demand and low-range 4WD with a drive ratio of 2.72:1.

As with Grand Cherokee, which is also built at DaimlerChrysler’s Magna Steyr plant in Austria, Quadra-Trac II is standard on the base 4.7L and features an electronically controlled clutch pack coupling in centre differential, open front and rear differentials, a default torque split of 48/52 front/rear and the ability to send 100 per cent to either axle.

Limited variants’ more sophisticated Quadra-Drive II adds front and rear electronic limited-slip differentials to enable cross-axle torque transfer.

An ESP stability control system is standard on all Commanders, as is traction control, brake assist, ABS, tyre pressure monitoring, twin adaptive front airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

Standard equipment includes (eight-way driver, four-way passenger) front seats, six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound, trip computer, power windows and (heated) mirrors, cloth trim and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Limited variants add Quadra-Drive II, seat/mirror memory, leather seat/steering wheel trim, rain-sensing wipers, a Boston Acoustics 276-watt six-speaker/six-CD sound system, front/rear parking assistance, heated front seats, chromed grille and bodyside mouldings, dual-zone climate-control and auto-dimming mirrors.

Nine paint colours (including just two solids: black and white) and three interior trim options are available. Commander comes with a full-size spare wheel/tyre.

2006 Jeep Commander pricing:

Commander 4.7L V8 (a) - $54,990
Commander 3.0L CRD (a) - $59,990
Commander Limited 4.7L V8 (a) - $66,990
Commander Limited 3.0L CRD (a) - $69,990
Commander Limited 5.7L V8 - $71,990

Jeep Commander options:

Premium Paint - $370
Climate Group (sunroof/tinting) - $2700
Quadra-Drive II (4.7L) - $210
Park Assist (non-Limited) - $675
Boston Acoustics audio (non-Limited) - $1596
Skid plate (Limited) - $166
All-terrain tyres - no cost

Commander at a glance:

Overall length: 4787mm
Overall width: 1899mm
Overall height: 1826mm
Wheelbase: 2780mm
Minimum ground clearance: 213mm
Front/rear track: 1590mm
Approach angle: 34 degrees
Departure angle: 27 degrees
Breakover angle: 20 degrees
Towing capacity: 3500kg
Fuel capacity: 77.7 litres

Kerb weights:

3.0 CRD: 2242kg (Limited: 2306kg)
4.7L: 2235kg (Limited: 2303kg)
5.7L: 2318kg

Fuel consumption:

3.0 CRD: 10.5L/100km
4.7L: 15.5L/100km
5.7L: 16.0L/100km

0-100km/h performance:

3.0 CRD: 9.0 sec
4.7L: 9.5 sec
5.7L: 7.4 sec

GoAuto can help you buy a new Commander

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